Joe Satriani recalls birthday boy Les Paul making fun of his whammy bar

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By Steve Newton

Tomorrow is a big day for fans of electric guitar: that’s the day that legendary guitarist, inventor, and innovator Les Paul would have turned 100.

The celebration of Paul’s legacy includes a big event at the Hard Rock Café in New York’s Times Square, featuring performances by Joe BonamassaSteve VaiWarren Haynes, Steve Miller, Joan Jett, and others.

Also taking part is Bay Area guitar wizard Joe Satriani, who—while never known as a heavy user of the Gibson Les Paul guitar—is nevertheless a huge fan of the man.

In a story posted on the Gibson website today, Satch humorously recalled how the “unflappable” Paul teased him on stage once at his former haunt, the New York City jazz club the Iridium.

“I walked right into that one,” says Satriani. “He makes you feel really comfortable, but still, once I got onstage I was kind of nervous. I’m thinking, ‘Wow, here I am, sitting onstage with Les.’ He looked at my guitar and said, ‘So, Joe, what have you got there? It looks pretty fancy.’

“I started earnestly describing its features. And then I said, ‘Look, it does this,’ and made a noise with the whammy bar. He immediately goes, ‘Oh, that’s too bad.’ My eyes got watery from laughing so hard. I don’t even remember what I played after that.”

Satriani’s latest album, Shockwave Supernova, will be released July 24.

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